What is International Women’s Day? Why is it important?
Who runs the world? Girls! International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day dedicated to honoring the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women worldwide. It happens annually on March 8 and acts as a rallying cry for support of women’s rights and gender equality.
Women’s rights and gender equality are particularly of concern in the fashion industry, which is where we come in. Fast fashion is known for its exploitative practices, including low wages, long working hours, and poor working conditions - disproportionately affecting women. IWD is an opportunity to highlight these issues and call for greater transparency and accountability in the fashion supply chain - including our own. By supporting women in the fashion industry and advocating for their rights, we can create a fairer and more sustainable future. Now that’s a reason to celebrate!
O My Bag’s Woven Leather and Women Empowerment
O My Bag is at the forefront of women empowerment and promoting equality within our supply chain. We create equitable labor opportunities in India and improve the well-being and status of our bagmakers. We’re always on the lookout for interesting ways to lift up the local communities. One of the most recent examples of how we’re doing this is the production of our new Woven Leather.
Jessica, our Head of Production & Sustainability, played with the idea of adding Woven Leather pieces to the collection for some time. She was drawn to the intricate pattern and the skill required to weave the leather. Jessica consequently learned about a fantastic leather weaving project from Nassir, one of the employees at our bagmaker Springfield, which was taking place in his home village. Nassir and his wife Monira accepted weaving work from local factories and then distributed it to the housewives in their village Bilpar, a suburbia of Kolkata, India. Jessica was so inspired by their talent and sense of community that she decided it was time for O My Bag’s first woven collection. Currently, there are around 40 housewives who have learned the art of weaving Woven Leather. They work from their homes with minimal investment, which allows them to earn a sustainable income while still fulfilling their responsibilities, such as taking care of their children.
We asked our founder Paulien, what drove her towards this project: “As housewives, these women had no work due to child responsibilities or lack of skills. Providing them with work that they can do from home gives them more independence. Combining our social mission with designing beautiful bags is the sweet spot that excites me the most.”
Let’s take a look at how they transform leather into beautiful woven bags...
The factories provide the women with two sheets of leather, one with laser-cut patterns and another with laser-cut sheets that the women cut from both ends with the help of scissors. The women then knit both sheets together by hand, following the pattern, and eventually, a sheet is formed, which they send to the factory for stitching as per bag designs.
Our Woven Leather is not only a beautiful and unique material but also connects small local communities of women in Kolkata to the global market. By providing work opportunities to these women and supporting their skills, we are making a positive difference in their lives and the lives of their families. And so do our lovely customers by creating a demand for our Woven Leather products. With every purchase, you’re supporting the women in Bilpar and participating in something bigger than just casual shopping.
See the other ways we empower women and support local communities: The Dust Bag Ladies and our Giving Back program.